Vilhelm Stokstad

Location: Stockholm
Nationality: Swedish
Biography: My main interest lies in documentary photography. In 2013 i started working on the project  Voluntourism , investigating the phenomenon of mixing volunteer work with vacation. As the larger NGOs and more established volunteer agencies,... read on
Public Story
Travel to make a difference - For better or worse
By Vilhelm Stokstad

“It's exactly like going to Magaluf, except you hug kids for a couple of hours out of your day” - a former volunteer.

Volunteering is the new backpacking. It is a booming business with slogans like ”travel to make a difference”. But some of these arranged volunteering trips establish a ”we and them” thinking that can increase the social, cultural and economical gap rather than decrease it. This gets even more evident when the often wealthy volunteers — a volunteering trip often costs several years of annual income in the country of visit — stays in guarded compounds, sometimes with their own chef and maid. As volunteering has become more of a business, many companies care more about profits than actual change.

At orphanages, children often need long and stable relationships, but a two week visit by volunteers may result in the opposite. In a school on Zanzibar, to feel more included, volunteers were in charge of the English curriculum. This resulted in a new curriculum every two weeks, denying the children a long term education plan.

The ongoing photography based research project Voluntourism aims to challenge visual stereotypes by holding up a mirror on how we (including photojournalists) represent ”the other”. It questions the contrast in behaviour by westerners towards children in Europe and children of other continents and hope to encourage reflection and sustainable solutions for volunteer work.

@vstokstad @voluntourismproject
You can follow the project on and through #voluntourism.


By Vilhelm Stokstad —


Copper With A Cost

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Findings show how unsustainable extraction of copper, a mineral frequently used in ICT products, has caused environmental degradation and adverse..

Questioned Identity

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Race, religion and statelessness in Modi´s India. 100,000s of Indians are being stripped of their citizenship. In the northeastern state of..

The Gravediggers of Raqqa

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Death is everywhere in Raqqa . Sometimes it lurks beneath the mountains of bomb-blasted rubble and pancaked buildings. Other times it peeks out..

Children of Mosul

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Children of Mosul - Life after ISIS in a city of ruins.  Almost a year after the liberation of Mosul, the old city is still in ruins, dead..

Myanmar's Lost Generations

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Kachin Youth Locked in Protracted Conflict For the young generations in Myanmar's conflict-ridden north, war controls everything. Ongoing since..


By Vilhelm Stokstad — Transdniestr is a predominantly Russian populated narrow strip of land on the east bank of the Dniestr River. It declared its independence from..

Myanmar's drug epidemic

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium in the world, after Afghanistan, and it is the main source of Methamphetamine. Farmers and workers..

For God’s Sake

By Vilhelm Stokstad — In what is often called the worlds most secularized country the church is declining, with around 70 000 active dissidents each year. But a few is..

Out of the Shadows

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Strict gender roles, colonial legislation and religion have long restricted Burmese sexuality. In Yangon a new movement is emerging as LGBTI persons..

Escalating violence in Myanmar

By Vilhelm Stokstad — Over the last couple of months, the Burmese military has intensified its attacks on rebel groups in north and northeastern Burma. According to..
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